Cheap Electric Guitars : Big Surprises at $200 or Less!

SX SST57 Short Scale

SX SST57 Short Scale

The only reason I decided to pick up this guitar was to get an idea of what it was like to play a short scale guitar.

At its ridiculously low price ($90), I thought that it couldn't be much more than a toy. (What is a short scale?) I was wrong . . . way wrong! A "more than decent" guitar for the price or for twice the price for that matter.


First, the SX SST57 Short Scale is a nice looking instrument. A 'most' cool vintage white finish (other colors available). They even use a slightly yellowed plastic on the knobs and pickup covers which adds to the overall look. The workmanship is right up there too in terms of fit and finish.

The maple fingerboard (Rosewood is available too) feels quite good with nice jumbo sized frets, nicely set with no sharp edges (although a crown and polish job would further improve them) all are of consistent height the entire length of the fingerboard.

The neck is well reinforced with an adjustable truss rod and reinforced with a mahogany inlayed strip that runs up the back of the neck. My only minor negative comment on the neck (and it's just personal preference) is that the Maple is stained a bit more orange than I would prefer.

The nut is plastic, so if you wanted to improve the guitar, you might do so here, but it really didn't cause any issues, so no biggie. Tuning mechanisms operate smoothly and hold tune very well . . . after a couple tunings of the new strings. (Like any guitar really.)

The guitar is very light, 6.5 lbs. . . largely due to its reduced body size. The lower bout is only 11.5 inches wide the total guitar length is 36"

Playing: Nice neck, seems fairly fast, albeit a little thick, which is fine for most players. Decent action and string height (after minor set-up tweaks). Guitar has decent balance and is comfortable in most playing positions.

Sound: Really quite good with the pickups that are installed. I was definitely able to get some nice mean rock sounds and mellow blues notes out of the SX SST57 Short Scale.

Value: If your comfortable doing a bit of basic guitar set-up, you're going to be very happy with this guitar . . . in fact at the price you may decide to buy two just to play around with and polish your guitar 'tweaking' skills!

If you're on a super tight budget . . . buy an SX, it's doubtful that you'll find a better value!

A really nice guitar for the recreational player or beginner. Its weight and size also makes it a good travel guitar.

Okay, so yes . . . this guitar is made in China . . . and IMHO it should be concerning to some bigger brands (with mid-market, mid-tier electric guitars) that this level of quality is available in such a cheaply priced instrument.

SX SST57 Short Scale

SX Short Scale Guitar

Expect to pay about $120 w/10w Amp

SX SST57 Specifications:

Body: Solid Alder

Finish: Vintage Yellowed White

Neck: Maple Fingerboard: 21 fret 24" Scale

Inlays: Classic black dot

Truss: Adjustable with Rosewood strip as reinforcement

Tuners: Chrome enclosed back

Bridge: Chrome vintage fulcrum with individual adjustable saddles

Pickups: Three single coil

Pickguard: 3-ply White-Black-White

Controls: 1-Volume 2-Tone

Selector: Five-way switch

Weight: 6.5 lbs

Makes a great "slide guitar."

Starcaster by Fender

Starcaster by Fender

First off, let's just get this bit out of the way. While the Starcaster is styled like the iconic Fender Stratocaster it is NOT a Stratocaster. But, that's not a bad thing, this is a good electric guitar for the money!

So if its not a Strat, then what is it?

It's a lower priced "entry level" guitar licensed by Fender and produced by one of their Asian manufactures. Now, that said, it certainly doesn't make it bad by any means, in fact I was pretty impressed with how well it plays with a set of light 9 gauge Fender Super Bullet strings installed.

I also did just a few minor tweaks like tightening up the tuner posts and knobs (using a "proper" sized box wrench and screw driver) . . . which helps the guitar stay in tune longer.

The fit and finish of the Starcaster isn't bad. The one I've messed with has a nice looking Black or Charcoal sparkle finish which polishes up nicely with some guitar polish and a soft cloth. This guitar also has a very cool looking white pearlescent pickguard.

In short, it's a sharp looking guitar and the hardware isn't bad either! All metal parts are nicely finished and fit properly and the electronics are decent too! For the money, you get a decent guitar that's as easy to play as any.


The neck has a "C" shape with a bit of that "Fender feel" which allows for some pretty fast fingering. And, in my opinion, the guitar's action and string height is just fine. Balance is pretty much like the Stratocaster.

Sound: Not bad at all. I was able to coax some blues, grunge, and rather crisp metal sounds out of it. The stock pickups do the job. This guitar has a nice 'voicing' range for a $200 player.

Value: This is a very nice guitar for the money. It's playability and sound will not disappoint nor frustrate the beginning player (like many cheap guitars do!) And the intermediate level player will find this to be a more than adequate guitar that is easy to play and look very cool too!

Starcaster by Fender

Starcaster Fender Series Guitars

Expect to pay about $200 w/10w Amp

Starcaster Specifications:

Body: Solid Agathis

Neck: Maple C-shape

Fingerboard: Rosewood

Frets: 21 Medium Jumbo frets

Scale: 25.5"

Inlays: white dots (pearloid plastic)

Truss: Adjustable

Tuner: die-cast enclosed

Bridge: tremelo with adjustable saddles

Pickups: three single coil

Pickguard: white pearlescent

Controls: 1-Volume 2-Tone

Selector: five-way

Weight: about 8 lbs

Squire Telecaster Special

Squire Affinity Series
Telecaster Special

If there is a leading statement to be made for the Squire Affinity Series Telecaster it's "Bang for the buck!"

This is a great guitar for anyone on a tight budget . . . (or anyone who simply wants a dynamite guitar) you're going to get great playability, good looks and impressive durability.

This guitar has a great neck that is fast and comfortable. Set-up right out of the box, was pretty much dead-on, although I did make just a few minor bridge adjustments to lower the action just a hair. Hardware is good as is the fit and finish . . . you won't need to change a thing on this baby.


Now I do have a couple American made Fender Telecasters . . . so I consciously tried 'not to compare' the playability here, but, by its own merit the Squire Affinity Series Telecaster is one righteous player! The neck does have that "Fender feel" and the over all action and playability are great.

Sound: Also great! It's sometime difficult to remember this is an "under $200" guitar. I pulled some great, classic "Tele Twang" and some pretty wicked rock sounds out of this Squire. No problems with the stock pickups or electronics here! I don't think I'd change a thing on this guitar . . . there's no need!


Value: The Squire Affinity Series Telecaster is an outstanding guitar for the money. It's playability and sound will not disappoint you (regardless of your level of play.) The Squire Affinity Series Telecaster is "five star show" for little money. Buy it, you'll love it!

Squire Telecaster

Squire Telecaster Series by Fender

Expect to pay about $170

Squire Telecaster Series Specifications:

Body: Alder

Neck: Maple C-shape

Fingerboard: Maple

Frets: 21 Medium Jumbo frets

Scale: 25.5"

Inlays: black dots (plastic)

Truss: Adjustable

Tuner: die-cast enclosed

Bridge: adjustable saddles

Pickups: two single coil

Pickguard: single ply black

Controls: 1-Volume 1-Tone

Selector: three-way

Weight: about 8 lbs

SX 62CT Vintage Yellow

SX SJB-62CT VYW Vintage Yellow

If I were ever asked to describe the most classic electric bass design of all time . . . this would be it! The mellow vintage finish, the bold chrome vintage style saddle and bridge cover, coupled with the (faux) Tortoise Shell pickguard creates an amazing and powerful look.

It is a gorgeous "wall hanger."

Yes! This is a cheap Chinese "knock-off" . . . but the real deal Vintage Fender would set you back several thousand dollars. The SX SJB-62 will set you back about $180.

Now the best part is that this SX bass features surprisingly decent build quality in both hardware and finish. Put some good quality strings and tweak it a bit and it's a worthy player too!

Now I'm not for one 10th of a second suggesting it can take the place a of Top-tier bass but . . . it is really a decent bass for the beginner, casual player or even a pro on a tight budget. The hell with snob appeal if you need an inexpensive bass to get you going.


Actual Weight is only 10 lbs

SX SJB-62CT Vintage Yellow Bass

This SX bass features classic jazz styling at a fantastic price! $180 -$190 (If you can find it!)

Dual cutaway solid Alder body for excellent tone and access to the highest frets

Truss rod adjustable Bolt on Maple neck

Bound Rosewood fretboard, 20 jumbo frets

Vintage pearloid dot inlays on fretboard

Two J-Style pickups controlled from two volume and one tone control

Chrome vintage saddle and bridge cover

Tortoise Shell pickguard

Chrome tuning hardware

Width of the neck at the nut: 1 9/16"; at the 20st fret: 2 9/16 "

Overall length 45"; Scale length: 34"

Width at the widest point: 13" Body Thickness is 1 1/2"

More Guitar Reviews Coming Soon!

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